How to impress $685 million developer Q&A startup Stack Overflow, according to an exec, as the firm hires for dozens of positions,

  • After reducing its staff by 15% near the beginning of the pandemic in May, developer resource platform Stack Overflow raised $85 million in July and is now hiring for dozens of roles across the company.
  • Head of product Teresa Dietrich conducts the very last interview before engineers, designers, or product managers can be hired at the company and shared her tips for making a good impression. 
  • She focuses on problem-solving skills, how candidates learn, and what they want from Stack Overflow and, in order to impress her, candidates should come to the table with their own questions.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Developer resource startup Stack Overflow wasn't immune to the coronavirus, but it's been on the up-and-up recently.

The coding Q&A site reduced its workforce by 15% in May as its recruiting arm lost business because of widespread  hiring freezes, but the firm has since brought some of its furloughed workers back full-time. It also raised an $85 million Series E in July that boosted its valuation to $685 million, according to PitchBook.

The funding has helped bolster its software collaboration platform, Stack Overflow for Teams, and it's now hiring for dozens of roles across the company.

Stack Overflow's head of product, Teresa Dietrich, is the last stop for tech and product-focused candidates before they get hired and currently interviews roughly two candidates a week. She shared with Business Insider what she expects from those interviews and how potential hires can impress her. 

'I don't care how you learn. I care that you know how you learn'

Since earlier interviewing rounds focus heavily on technical skills, Dietrich hones in on learning about 

more high-level values from candidates. For example, gleaning information about how people learn, what their problem-solving techniques are, and how they've mastered their domain.

"So [we] talk about: What are some initiatives that they've championed and helped drive through?" she said. "What are changes or new approaches, best practices, tools, and whatnot that they championed and led through?"

She'll often ask engineers, product folks, and UX engineers what the last thing they learned was — it could be a piece of technology, a new programming language, or a new design tool — why they had to learn it, and how they went about it. 

"I don't care how you learn, I care that you know how you learn," Dietrich said. Continuous learning is an inevitable part of developing a career, and it's important that people "know how you learn best and you're also willing to ask for what you need, and that you can learn quickly and efficiently as possible," she explained. 

'Are they going to be happy here?'

Dietrich said one of her biggest blunders earlier in her career was not interviewing the company at the same time as they were interviewing her. 

"When you're more young in your career, you're just so eager to get that job that just seems so awesome and wonderful and everything," she said. But she's learned form personal experience that taking a job just because you're excited about getting an offer can be a big mistake. 

She always asks candidates questions about what they're looking for in the next stage in their careers so she can assess whether it seems like a good fit for Stack Overflow. 

"Are they going to be happy here? Are they going to be satisfied and challenged and all of that?" she asks. 

She also asks candidates that are coming from a different company why they're leaving their current role, and looks for answers that show that the candidate has reflected deeply on a potential move and what they can gain from — and bring to — Stack Overflow. 

"I think in every role that we have, we learn things about ourselves" Dietrich said. "We learn things about how we grow, how we learn, how we handle challenges. We learn things about the type of roles we want or don't want in the future."

Candidates should never come to Dietrich without questions 

"When you're in interviews, it's funny, you get tired of being asked, 'Do you have any questions for me?'" Dietrich said.

She expects candidates to come to the table with their own well-thought out questions. In the past, she's been impressed by questions about strategy for a specific product, how candidates can progress in their roles at the company, and what she expects out of new hires during their first few months.

Dietrich said this shows, "they actually are interested in hearing about [the product] and have done some homework beforehand and have some insight into it."

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